Still Trying to Find My Way Home travel blog

Wilson...on the right

Hondu...getting ready

hopping on

loser before departure

about to depart

Pregnant couple




Palenque, Chiapas, Mexico

As I mentioned in the gallimaufry of words in my previous entry, I had the distinct honor of riding La Bestia, or Riding the Beast, as we call it in the trade. After I completed my 13 hour marathon bus trip across the southern part of Mexico and arrived in Palenque, home of famous Mayan Ruins, I cabbed it over to the train station.

For once luck was on my side. At least, that's how i saw it. The train had just arrived in the station at Palenque and was in the middle of its requisite stop in which they unloaded cargo cars and attached other cars. I was surprised to see a sea of Hondu along the tracks, resting and rehydrating. (When the train stops at a station, Hondu must get off and wait for the train to once again depart.) I had never seen so many Hondu before. This was my chance. This is what I had been waiting for!!!!

I was like a kid in a candy shop. I wasn't quite sure what to do with myself. So I went into my pockets, grabbed a wad of bills and began making it rain all over Hondu. I've always wanted to make it rain! JK! I quickly regained my composure, turned around my Yankee cap, rolled up my sleeves, applied 50 sunblock and went to work. I began creating redirect with 3 Hondu, one named Wilson. I like that name. I offered Wilson's brother my t-shirt, which you can see in my videos, and that was all I needed to get in with them. I would travel on La Bestia with Wilson and his boyz. My bullshit had worked!

The train began to make some movements and everyone began to scurry around like wild boar. The ticket booth at the station was closed, so I decided to join la raza, the PEOPLE, in the most air-conditioned of all cars...on top of the train. This is first class at its finest, like riding in a convertible, just without seats. For those of you unfamiliar with La Bestia, this isn't a passenger train, rather a cargo train. The only "passengers" are the conductor and his boys. It is illegal to ride in the train, on the train and on top of the train in Mexico, but is nearly impossible to enforce. Hondu chooses this mode of transportation b/c it is the cheapest and fastest way to make it north. Nevertheless, La Bestia gets its name from being an unforgivable nightmare for many who choose to ride. Hondu on the train fall prey to drug cartels, gangs, local thieves, corrupt officials while battling the heat, sun, dehydration, hunger and fatigue.

It is rare the person that makes it to Los United unscathed. The biggest danger now are the Zetas, the most violent and ruthless drug cartel in the world. The Zetas stop the train and kidnap mass numbers of migrants at one time. Hondu is blindfolded, escorted to a "safe house" and tortured with a wooden paddle until he divulges phone numbers of family members in the USA. If he is lucky, Hondu's family will pay the $2000 ransom and he will be set free. Most Hondu, however, have a more inauspicious fate. It is rare the woman that avoids being raped. Many are held as slaves some are sex-trafficked and many are killed. Few people escape to tell their story...

Anyway, I digress. To ride the train your choices are: 1) ride on the platform of the gondola, which fills up very quickly 2) hold onto a ladder on the side or 3) ride on top. The safest option for me was on top.

Let me tell you, it ain't easy climbing onto a huge-ass cargo train, especially with my gear. People helped me up and I hurriedly found a good location. I placed my stuff next to me...and prayed to our Lord, Jesucristo, that todo iria bien. While all of this is happening, I remembered that I hadn't eaten a proper meal since last night, and it was already 4PM. TO make matters worse, I purposely dehydrated myself, which under almost every circumstance is extremely stupid, so that I wouldn't have to make. I was going to have to fight the hunger and thirst in order to realize my goal. Remember, nobody said research is easy.

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